Nothing in Dubai Return makes sense. Why was it made? What is the purpose behind its existence? What is it trying to say? What is the brilliant Irrfan doing in this mess? And most important of all, why was it released 6 years after completion? These questions will haunt me for a while. Irrfan is an actor we all love. We loved him when he was alive. We love him even more, now that he is no more. We want to savour every bit of his artistry in any form…But not this, please!
Dubai Return, besides its grammatically faulty title, is a blazing anomaly of a film. It is supposed to be a wacky comic take on the aftermath of gangsterism. All its gags and jokes about this loser of a gangster named Aftab Angrez (Irrfan) trying to regain his lost glory in Mumbai’s underworld after a brief ill-conceived stint in Dubai, are like a desperate attempt to ignite fire out of deadwood.
When we first meet Irrfan’s Aftab Angrez he has just scored a kill on the gangster board, an accomplishment for which he gets no credit. A major chunk of this surrealistic junk has Irrfan trying to convince his weird band of washed-out bandits that he’s the one who did the dark dirt deed some years ago. In one sequence in a dance bar, three youngsters accost Irrfan ‘Uncle’ for details of his exploits. He tells them about his famous assassination. They laugh. We hold our breath for the punchline.
The oddball characters spill out like toothpaste from an uncapped tube. Divya Dutta who is earlier on shown as a moll in a gangster’s den eventually ends up married to a former gangster Nandu, played by the effective Vijay Maurya. Dutta is very good as Vaishali the bossy but well-meaning wife who wants Irrfan out of their hard-earned domestic tranquillity. Instead, Nandu and his old pal Aftab Angrez (that, in case you missed the point, is an ironic reference to Irrfan’s Dubai-return-ed status) wheel an ailing ex-gangster Khilji Bhai (Razak Khan) into Vaishali’s home. While Khilji and Vaishali battle over kadi patta in mutton curry, Irrfan looks on with an expression of what-am-I-doing-here.
What is Irrfan doing in this whimsical crime drama? The editing is incoherent and the creative quotient is insolvent. For reasons that only the director knows (provided he has the answers) the background score has a badly-mixed version of R D Burman Yaara oh yaara from the film Benaam playing over and over again.
What is the significance of this musical homage? What sense do we make of this film? Did it really need to be released? I’d rather remember Irrfan by his last release Angrezi Medium or the unreleased Song Of Scorpions directed by Anup Singh. Anything but this, Dear God. Anything but this.
Directed by Aditya Bhattacharya, Dubai Return gets half a star
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